Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio has been in the news for the longest time for the prospective launch of its 4G services, which is touted as one of the largest startup in the world. It claims to have one of the largest retail footprint of 5 lakh activation outlets and a million recharge outlets.
Reliance Jio had procured spectrum way back in 2010 but is yet to launch the services. A Telecom Talk report tries to find out the reasons for the delay:
Reliance Digital Store experience
The first touch point of contact for millions of new potential customers is going to be Jio’s retail outlets. Currently, there is just one point of sale for Jio SIMs and that is Reliance Digital stores, which are currently selling Lyf smartphones that come bundled with 90-day preview offer.
While the service at these stores hasn’t been very smooth, but the extension of preview offer to Samsung smartphone revealed that the customer service isn’t top notch, and isn’t trained accordingly at a time when existing telcos are putting much effort on customer experience, be it online or offline.
In the midst of Samsung offer, a few people found out a bug in the MyJio app, which was allowing consumer to fetch coupon codes for a free preview data offer. The bug obviously led to a huge rush at Digital store because who wouldn’t want unlimited data and content services for free that too for three months.
Few of my friends that had received the Samsung Jio offer informed that Digital store employees were very rude when approached for the Jio free SIM. Even after long waiting they were reluctant to issue the SIM and were pretending to be busy in providing support to other ‘paying’ customers at stores.
Some stores even insisted on purchase invoice and IMEI no of Samsung smartphone even after seeing the device in person. Also most stores just collected ID proof and photo then issued SIMs without even filling the CAF in front of the customer. A number of high-end Samsung phone buyers felt disregarded seeing the attitude of Digital store employees.
Jio has already conveyed that it is leveraging fully digital process, aimed at eliminating delays, for activation of new connections. When Jio rolled out Lyf preview in May this year, customers were able to get their SIMs activated within 10 minutes to a few hours. However, the situation has changed lately with activation time taking three-to-five days that too even after repeated calls to the store, which shows the inability of digital store executives in handling large amount of activation request generated after Samsung preview offer.
Each city currently has an average two-three digital store, which is certainly not enough to support the impending commercial launch.
Earlier, it was expected that Jio’s coverage issues would improve after the integration of 850MHz spectrum acquired from Reliance Communications. However, the integration has apparently impacted data speeds for a number of users. Customers, who were able to get around 10Mbps speed on 1800MHz band, are now able to get speeds between 1Mbps to 5Mbps on 850MHz, which is considered a better band for data services.
In terms of coverage, 850Mhz has also failed to deliver any significant improvement. In short, enabling 850Mhz only led to deterioration of Jio 4G experience.
As per update from Jio technical teams, this was mainly due to small quantity of 850MHz spectrum, which is just 3.75Mhz in most circles. While for optimum LTE performance at least 5MHz is required. Jio is currently optimizing its network to use 850MHz mainly for Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and data service to run on 1800Mhz and 2300Mhz.
Call connectivity issue
Jio seems to be experiencing serious call connectivity issues when calling Idea, Vodafone and Airtel numbers, as Jio users get “All lines are busy” message while reaching out to networks of the incumbent telcos.
It is not clear whether these operators have deliberately assigned low bandwidth lines to Jio as the issue is unlikely to emerge at Jio end given that calls to other networks works fine. The top three operators hold over 70% market share in the country, seamless call connectivity to these operators’ network would be crucial for Jio.
Internet bandwidth throttling
Jio 4G network provides one of the fastest 4G speeds in India. On 2300 MHz, 30-60Mbps 4G internet speed are delivered to users. Over 1.5 million customers making the most out of the unlimited preview offer seems to have choked Jio’s international bandwidth carrying capacity.
Jio last month reported an average usage of 26GB per user with a total monthly usage at 38,000TB per month or 1,266TB per day. Comparatively, BSNL’s peak single day data usage last year was just 250TB. This data was published before Jio started Samsung Preview offer.
Customer support delay
Earlier, Jio Care was able to direct connection without the need to select any IVR options, and calls were getting connected to executives within seconds. However, it is now taking more than 15 minutes to connect to an agent. Live Chat support now shows an estimated wait time of 113 minutes which is insane for anyone to wait for customer support.
On the other hand, emails to care at Jio.com elicit response only after four-to-five days. Jio promises to resolve most complaints within 48 hours. However, most complaints are open for weeks now and there is no update from Jio care.
Jio is not ready for launch
In the latest statement released by Reliance Industries, commercial launch of Jio will happen in the coming months, which contradicts earlier reports suggesting August 15 launch. At current condition, Jio is far from ready for a commercial launch. Jio would need to address aforementioned issues and add more resources for its support team; otherwise it won’t be able to handle the huge demand generated at the commercial launch.